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Solar Flares

June 14, 2014

Solar Flare disturbances Friday June 13th, 2014. 

 

Many have probably heard about the Solar Flare disturbance that has been occurring within the past few days. This naturally arises many questions such as, What is a Solar Flare? How do they occur? How can the affect us? 

 

What is a Solar Flare? 

     A Solar Flare according to NASA, "is defined as a sudden, rapid, and intense variation in brightness." 

 

How do Solar Flares occur? 

     A Solar Flare "occurs when magnetic energy that has built up in the solar atmosphere is suddenly released. As that magnetic energy is being released, particles, including  electrons, protons, and heavy nuclei, are heated and accelerated in the solar atmosphere." The frequency of flares coincides with the Sun's eleven year cycle. The amount of Solar Flares increases when the Sun is in the maximum of its cycle, and currently the sun is in an “active” phase. NASA officials say it is a much weaker maximum phase than past solar cycles, calling the phase “mini max”. 

 

Will the Solar Flare affect Earth? 

     "Solar flares produce high energy particles and radiation that are dangerous to living organisms. However, at the surface of the Earth we are well protected from the effects of solar flares and other solar activity by the Earth's magnetic field and atmosphere." The most serious effects on human activity occur during major geomagnetic storms. A geomagnetic storm is a disturbance of the Earths magnetic field. One serious problem according to NASA is, "that can occur during a geomagnetic storm is damage to Earth-orbiting satellites, especially those in high, geosynchronous orbits. Communications satellites are generally in these high orbits." 

 

This current Solar Flare was a coronal mass ejection, which is a burst of plasma outside the sun's atmosphere. This has the potential to trigger a minor geomagnetic storm and damage high frequency communications. NASA has launched sun monitoring satellites in orbit today. 

 

In response to the Solar Flares, the auroras have been significantly enhanced. An aurora is a  colorful, rapidly varying glow in the sky caused by the collision of charged particles in the magnetosphere with atoms in the Earth's upper atmosphere. Auroras are most often observed at high latitudes and are enhanced during geomagnetic storms. 

 

Any further questions or concerns, kindly feel free to contact the forecasting team! 

 

-"http://hesperia.gsfc.nasa.gov/sftheory/spaceweather.htm"

 

- The Forecasting Consultants LLC Team 

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